By Cho Jin-seo
It’s not their home turf but then again, to Apple, its iPhone knows no borders. More than 120,000 Koreans struggled on jammed Internet servers to place orders for the iPhone4 through its Korean vendor KT on the first day of sales Wednesday.
Samsung Electronics and SK Telecom have used a lull caused by Apple’s quirky marketing tactic of delaying the iPhone4’s Korean debut, to sell the former’s Galaxy S in large numbers.
SKT officials put on a brave face on the overwhelming orders for the new Apple product downplaying it as an initial action. By any standard, all hell is breaking loose for companies involved, meaning buyers will be able to enjoy the benefits of this competition.
This explosive pace of pre-order sign-ups confirms that Apple has become one of the most powerful brands in Korea, despite various publicity problems such as the phone’s antenna performance and unpopular customer service policies.
It also shows that the Koreans, known for their quick temper and adaptability, are now fully embracing multi-tasking smartphones as a natural part of their life only nine months after the launch of the iPhone’s previous version ― Twitter, mobile games, and shorter e-mails are byproducts of the iPhone boom.
“I really appreciate this enormous support from our customers, and I also apologize for the discomfort caused by the ordering system. We will do our best for flawless delivery of the product,” Pyo Hyun-myong, chief of KT’s mobile business, said on his Twitter account.
KT is the exclusive provider of the iPhone handsets here. Pyo himself is one of many in Korea who began to use Twitter with the launching of iPhone late last year.
Apple, as usual, kept its calm. “We are thrilled to work with KT for the launch of the iPhone4 in Korea in September,” was the firm’s only official statement that came through its spokesman Wednesday.
In some aspect, the popularity of the iPhone4 in Korea even trumps that in the United States. Apple received some 600,000 orders on the first day of pre-orders there. Considering Korea’s population is only about one sixth of that of the United States, 120,000 orders here is more appreciable than the first-day sales in America.
Market analysts were impressed, though KT’s stock price rose only 0.46 percent on the day.
“This result exceeded the stock market’s expectation,” said Park Jong-soo of Hanwha Securities. “Increasing marketing costs on smartphones are likely to be an issue to be solved for KT, but in the long term the iPhone4 is definitely good news for them.”
Apple and KT plan to deliver the devices to customers from around Sept. 1.
The only glitch of the day was the server jam early in the morning. KT started receiving orders at 6 a.m. Many iPhone fans at once stormed the server at one time, partly because the company had said it would hand out launching-party invitations to the first 10,000 customers.
Many complained that the website didn’t work properly until 8 a.m., and then remained slow throughout the day. By 10 a.m., more than 60,000 signed up. At 12 a.m., the tally exceeded 100,000.
The first-day order easily broke the record high for first-day mobile phone preorders in Korea. With the previous model, the iPhone3G, KT had received 65,000 pre-orders over five days in October ― the record high for Korea at the time. With the iPhone4, the firm got the same amount in only three hours.
According to stock market analyst, KT spends up to 550,000 won in subsidies on every iPhone it sells, because Apple does not give discounts by itself. The firm will have to cut the subsidy in order to meet local regulations ― mobile providers cannot spend more than 22 percent of revenue from phone services on handset subsidies. KT is close to that limit, Park said.
아이폰4 예약가입 태풍
아이폰4 예약가입이 공전의 히트를 기록하면서 `아이폰 바람'이 다시 강하게 몰아치고 있다.
한국에서의 판매 첫날인 18일 120,000명이 넘는 사람들이 아이폰4를 구매하
고자 몰려들어 대행 업체인 KT의 서버를 마비시켰다.
폭발적인 아이폰 선 예약 수는 전화기 안테나 결함과 서비스 불편이라는 약점 때문에 불만들이 터져 나왔음에도 불구하고 애플이 한국에서 막강한 브랜드의 하나로 자리잡았음을 보여준다.
한국에서의 아이폰4의 판매 수는 미국에서의 판매 수를 넘은 것으로 보여진다. 한국의 인구가 미국의 6분의 1이라는 것을 고려했을 때 첫날 120,000개를 팔았다는 것은 한국에서의 판매실적이 미국 보다 높은 것이라고 말할 수 있다.